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The Long and Winding Road

At 6200 feet elevation (some 5000' above the base), Mont Ventoux doesn't just mythically loom over the riders. It's more tangible than that. Le geant de Provence is merely an occasional scene of Tour de France legend, the last two such events being in 2000 and 2002. But at the Dauphiné Libéré, it's the main attraction, year in and year out. But since the Dauphiné is where Tour favorites come to train, can we glean anything from the Dauphiné battles on these legendary slopes when it comes to the Tour?

  • 2006: Denis Menchov pips Christophe Moreau at the line, with Levi Leipheimer third and taking over the GC lead. Floyd Landis finished 56th; Oscar Pereiro 17th. A month later, Menchov had another mountain stage win in his palmares, but slumped to 6th overall in the Tour GC, with Leipheimer 13th.
  • 2005: Vino dusts Armstrong and the other Tour favorites by 37 seconds or so, with Jose Angel Gomez Marchante second and Wim Van Huffel third. In the Tour, Vino finished a distant fifth (11 mins) behind Armstrong and a raft of Puerto suspects. JAGM and Van Huffel did not make it to Paris.
  • 2004: Iban Mayo famously blitzes the field, beating Tyler Hamilton by 35 seconds and Lance Armstrong by almost two minutes. But by Paris, Tyler and Mayo were both long gone. Ivan Basso, six minutes down on Mayo, finished just over 6' down in the Tour GC on Armstrong.

The point is, obviously, that the Tour will not be decided, or even foreshadowed, in tomorrow's state up Mont Ventoux. But it should be fun nonetheless.